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5 Can't-Miss Day Trips When Visiting Oahu

The mention of the Hawaiian island of Oahu elicits visions long days spent lying on white sandy beaches, the sound of waves rolling in the background, and a cold drink in hand. And while that's an amazing way to spend a vacation (we're not knocking the gorgeous beaches and resorts!), there's also a ton of fun and exciting activities that will add some variety to your vacation.

1. Go on an Adventure

Heading North to Oahu’s Windward Coast you'll find Kualoa Ranch, a sprawling 4,000-acre property where you'll find adventure for every member of your group from horseback riding, zip-lining, ATV tours, and even a private beach. Movie buffs can get their thrill by visiting the filming location of legendary films and TV shows such as Jurassic Park and Lost.

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2. Learn the Local Culture

Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean there's no time to learn! In fact, I'd argue that understanding your destination and the people who live there make the trip that much more meaningful. Oahu is home to a wealth of fascinating cultural attractions. Of them, my favorite is the Polynesian Cultural Center. Great for families but enjoyed by all, you can watch performances and visit villages representing the cultures throughout Hawaii. Stay for the evening Luau to be entertained, enlightened, and to enjoy a wonderful meal.

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3. Taste Local food

Tasting the flavors of each destination I visit may be my very favorite part of the vacation experience, and Oahu is no different. Stop by and grab one of the most classic Hawaiian treats from Matsumoto Shave Ice. Hit up Leonard's Bakery for hot malasadas, made fresh daily. These fried dough treats are heavenly (I highly recommend cinnamon sugar). The Dole Plantation has several pineapple treats available for purchase and Dole Whip (seen below) is a creamy, icy delight that's extremely popular.

If you’re in Oahu on a Saturday, be sure to explore the KCC Farmer’s Market for fresh seafood, coffee, and more; farmer's markets are a fantastic way to explore local culture and tastes. If shrimp is your thing, head to the North Shore and stop by Giovanni's food truck for some of the best shrimp you'll ever taste.

4. Take a Hike

Get out and move while enjoying the beautiful surroundings with a hike. A fantastic light-paced hike good for beginners is the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail which is about 2-miles of the paved walkway with a moderate incline to a quaint lighthouse and ocean views (you may even spot some whales!). Nearby, the more strenuous Diamond Head State Monument has some of the best hiking on the island and stunning panoramic views of both the water and city as you wind through an extinct volcanic crater.

5. Investigate World War II History

One of the most memorable moments of our recent Oahu trip was visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. We visited several walk-through museums, watched a short video, and finally took the boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was a thoughtful and informative experience for both my husband and I. Free to the public, it's easily accessible to all, but do be sure to reserve your tickets online because they run out quickly on busy days.

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©2023 by Megan Halberstadt, Travel Advisor.

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